Banff Springs Golf CourseDESTINATION GUIDE

Mountain golf in Alberta's Canadian Rockies

By Brandon Tucker,
Senior Writer

Locals may be immensely proud of their extraordinary backyard, but the secret's been out in Alberta's Canadian Rockies for quite some time. Ever since the Canadian National Railway was formed here in the 1920s, some seriously good golf pulled into the region as well.

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Most famous for the Fairmont Banff Springs golf course and hotel, today Alberta's Canadian Rockies are home to seven championship courses of various styles, though each features spectacular mountain scenery and an abundance of wildlife, including elk and black and grizzly bears.

Just west of Calgary, the eastern edge of the Canadian Rockies emerges and is home to two spectacularly beautiful National Parks, Jasper and Banff. Both UNESCO World Heritage sites that draw visitors from all over the world, they have been on the map for some time, with Banff Springs opening its famous castle hotel in 1888.

Canadian course architect Stanley Thompson began his legacy in the Rockies in 1925. He redesigned the golf course at Banff Springs a few years later about 300 kilometers south on the Icefields Parkway, considered one of the world's most beautiful drives. Among Thompson's legendary creations is the par-3 fourth hole at Banff, "Devil's Cauldron."

Silvertip Golf ResortBut in recent decades, the two have welcomed some new neighbors. Robert Trent Jones built two courses at Kananaskis Country Golf Course in 1970. A nearby mountain in Kananaskis later went on to host the skiing events during the 1988 Winter Olympic Games.

Just around the corner from Banff, Canmore is home to Stewart Creek Golf & Country Club. Across the valley is the new Silvertip Golf Resort, designed by prolific local architect Les Furber and the most dramatic of the bunch with over 600 feet of elevation change. Furber is a member at the more understated Canmore Golf & Curling Club, which welcomes public play.

Canadian Rockies climate

Stewart Creek Golf & Country ClubPerhaps the only thing wrong with the Canadian Rockies as a golf destination is that the season is tantalizingly short, the summer season ranging from June-September. July and August are the busiest months of the year, with idyllic golf temperatures in the 70s (22-25 C). It can be cool in the morning, so pack a sweater. Off-season golf depends on the weather and can usually be had at a discount. There is no shortage of daylight here, however, from about 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. around the solstice.

Getting to the Canadian Rockies

Calgary is the best international hub to reach the golf courses of the Canadian Rockies. Located about 100 kilometers from Banff, it receives much more international air traffic than Edmonton to the north.

July 24, 2009

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.

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